Dear Friends,

I am forwarding the message which i got from SAURAM Malaysia attack on NGO's by Malaysian government.


Rubina Jamil


Asia Pacific Workers Solidarity Links




-----Original Message-----

From: AAWL <>

To: AAWL Action Alert <>

Date: Monday, May 10, 1999 2:20 PM

Subject: Cease all attacks on NGOs in Malaysia


Dear Friends,

Once again, the Malaysian government has attacked NGOs. Both Suaram and Tenaganita were singled out last night on television where in today's papers, there was a general attack on NGOs.

Domestic Trade minister yesterday said that they will table amendments in Parliament in July.

Quote: "Some NGOs registered under the Registrar of Business (ROB) or Registrar of Companies (ROC) are heavily involved in socio-political activities and they are especially strong."

"After careful study, we discovered that 5 or 6 registered under the ROB have been acting as semi-political and semi-social bodies and 2 or 3 registered under the ROC have been campaigning for human rights."

"Some of the NGOs took part in street demonstrations and stirred up anti-government feelings and there is a possibility that the activities are foreign-funded."

When asked about the anticipated protests by NGOs, he said

"We can't think of the rights of individuals like western countries. We are easter and value the rights of society as a while more than that of the individual."


Press Statement: 6th May 1999

Cease all attacks on NGOs

SUARAM calls for repeal of Societies Act


SUARAM views with great concern yesterday’s statement by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Megat Junid Megat Ayob regarding NGOs. His seemly benign statement is in fact another concerted effort by the Barisan National to further repudiate fundamental human rights and dismantle any remaining ‘civil society’ in the country.

NGOs in Malaysia have played, and continue to play, a critical and constructive role in the country. In that role, they have criticised sections of the administration especially if there are actions and policies are detrimental to the people. This will occur regardless of whichever government-of-the-day may be.

All NGOs whether registered as societies or companies have to satisfy rules and conditions laid down by the Societies Act, the Companies Act and the Registration of Businesses Act; all of which NGOs are fully accountable to these various laws. If there is any mismanagement, it is the duty and responsibility of these registrars to take legal action to ensure the proper management of the organisation.

The main reason some NGOs are compelled to register as companies or businesses is because of the oppressive conditions and restrictions by the Societies Act amendment (1982). The vast discretionary powers of the Societies Act together with the Home Ministry has consistently sought to curb, for example human rights activities, and dictate the types of activities and issues NGOs can address. This is evident in the case where a group of Malaysians who had sought registration to form Amnesty International (Malaysia) since 1991, had to wait six and a half years to be told that their application was rejected. There is already excessive control over the activities of NGOs, including through other oppressive laws, further restrictions are unwarranted.

The fundamental issue here is all about freedom of association, which the Barisan National government repeatedly undermines. The recent moves suggest that there is an agenda to take action on NGOs who have dared to speak out against injustices in the country.

SUARAM calls for the repeal of the Societies Act. In its place, there should be laws which allow automatic registration for applicants (as found in democratic South Africa) without political interference. This will enhance greater freedom of association and the flourishing of civil society in Malaysia.


Released by:

Elizabeth Wong








struggling for human rights in Malaysia

add: 11, Lorong 1A/71E, Jalan Carey,

46000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

tel: 60-3-7943525 fax: 7943526